Updated: Mar 5
See 8 reasons why food trucks businesses are a better option than opening a restaurant
Running a restaurant can be hard work and often involves long hours 6-7 days a week. You have to get supplies, prepare the food, cook and serve the customers and do the admin.
Then there is the intense competition from other restaurant and changing consumer patterns which affect footfall.
All this leads to a high number of restaurants closing their doors within their first year.
So If you are looking to get into the food industry then a food truck, trailer or stall is a much better option, especially when starting.
And in this article, I will give you 8 reasons why a food truck business is better Vs. opening a restaurant.
1. Lower start-up costs
Starting a mobile catering business is significantly less expensive than opening a restaurant.
According to Sage the average cost of opening a restaurant is £210,000
The cost is for things like building refurbishment and improvement, commercial kitchen equipment, tables, furniture, new signages, marketing and licence and permits.
On the other hand, you can start a food truck business for as little as £10,000 and if you start with a food stall as low as £1000.
All you really need to get up and running for a mobile catering business is a food truck, trailer or food stall, a small selection of commercial cooking equipment and the right licences and insurance.
2. Lower running costs
Aside from the start-up costs associated with opening a restaurant, there is also the cost of running the day to day operations.
You have to consider recurring costs such as rents (especially high in prime locations), utility bills, business rates, staffing costs, legal costs and have funds set aside for a marketing budget.
Then are also hidden expenses you may not consider such as waste disposal costs, service charges to the landlord and leasing costs on some equipment.
Compare to a food truck business, the operational expenses are significantly lower.
You pay for a pitch fee (rent) to trade only on the days you operate, use only the utilities you need, such as electric, gas and water and hire the staff you need for that particular event.
3. Less equipment to maintain
With a restaurant, you will often find the menus are quite extensive with a large range to choose from.
This often means a lot of space and cooking equipment back of the house is needed.
Equipment such large range cookers, commercial fridges and freezers, blenders....the list goes on.
This also means the equipment has to be maintained, through PAT testing, and there is more chance for thing to break down.
Food trucks, on the other hand, offer smaller menus (often around 5 items), due partly to the space limitations and tend to serve a particular type of cuisine.
This means less equipment is needed to store, prepare and cook the food, and thus maintain over time.
4. Work fewer hours
Running a restaurant can be very hard work indeed which involves working long hours most of the week.
Aside from being in the restaurant when it's open attending to the smooth running of things, there all the other stuff when it's closed such as the cleaning down, food preparation for the next day, admin and getting supplies.
Running a food truck business can also be hard work but, you work fewer hours and may have a busy weekend but then get to have a break in the week.
Moreover, with a food truck, you have more control over how many hours or days you work and are not tied to opening every day.
5. Socialising with other food vendors
One of the great things in my opinion about running a mobile catering business is the sense of community you can get with the other food vendors.
This is especially true if you do regular food markets where you get to see the same food truck vendors each week.
And my most favourite part of this is getting to try different types of cuisines by swapping foods with the other traders.
However, the dynamics of a restaurant is much more different than an event or festival.
You don't get the face to face interaction by being opposite other traders, or the party vibe when boxed inside of a bricks and mortar establishment.
6. Food trucks are mobile
When you have a restaurant you are reliant on local footfall and having an enticing enough offer for customers to come to your establishment.
This means you are at the mercy of external factors such as a decline in the local area which means footfall may drop off and move to other areas.
With a mobile catering business such as a food truck, you can go where the action is. And if a particular event or location doesn't deliver the good you can move on to the next.
7. You can quickly change the menu
Going back to restaurant menus, they are often quite extensive and are planned out well in advance.
They have to be printed on flyers for the tables and outside on display for customers walking past and put onto websites and used for marketing.
This involves time and money and makes it harder to change what is on the menu at short notice
In comparison food trucks often have some menus which mean food vendors can experiment with new recipes and change the menu at relatively short notice.
With a food truck business, you are also able to "niche down" and focus on making very few items the best in terms of taste and quality.
8. Food trucks are a saleable asset
According to CNBC, around 60% of restaurant startups fail within the first year which increases to 80% by the fifth.
And most of these restaurant closures are unlikely to be one where the premises are owned outright by the business owners.
Sure they will be able to sell whatever commercial cooking equipment they can but not the actual premises.
However, if on the other hand things don't go to plan with a food truck business the food truck can easily be sold and hence some of the loss recuperated.
Second-hand food trucks and equipment can be found in places like Facebook groups and eBay.
Starting any kind of food business can be hard work whether its a mobile catering business like a food truck or opening a restaurant.
However, food truck businesses win hands down in terms of what it takes to start and run compared to the large amounts of money and effort it takes to open a restaurant.
With a food truck business, you are minimizing the financial risks and have a saleable asset if things don't go to plan.
The main plus with a mobile catering business is you are more agile and able to go to where the customers are and not be reliant on getting people to come to you.
If you can think of any reasons why restaurants are a better idea please leave a comment below.